Tips and advice to help you quit smoking

The New Year's resolutions may be long gone but there's never a bad time to give up smoking - your health will improve, your energy levels rise and you'll save money. But that doesn't mean to say it's easy. Thankfully there is a wealth of advice and information available to help you quit.

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If you are serious about giving up cigarettes, a good place to start is with your GP. Not only can your doctor advise you on the various nicotine replacement therapies (NRT) and other options available, your chosen treatment will be on prescription, saving you a substantial amount of money compared to shop-bought kits.

This year the NHS launched its Quit Kit for those who struggle with willpower alone, offering a week's free trial of NRT patches, stress-busting exercises to help you beat the cravings, a Health & Wealth wheel so that you can see the difference quitting is making and plenty more information and advice.

If you choose to try NRT, there are a number of options available.

Nicotine gum, lozenges and microtabs all provide a blast of nicotine when you need it most - both the gum and the lozenges will release the nicotine more slowly, while the microtabs dissolve quickly to take away your cravings.

Alternatively nicotine patches can be worn round the clock and release nicotine gradually during the day, directly into the bloodstream. Patches with differing amounts of nicotine are available so that you can slowly cut down and the advantage of these is that you are not directly replacing each cigarette with a lozenge or gum, thereby helping you to break the physical habit as well as the nicotine addiction.

But if it is the 'hand to mouth' aspect of smoking that you miss the most, a plastic inhalator may provide the answer as it simulates the physical act itself.

However, if you would prefer to do away with the nicotine straight away, your doctor can prescribe Champix, a course of medication which helps to relieve cravings and withdrawal symptoms without the nicotine. Though you continue smoking initially, the pills are designed to take some of the stress out of quitting when you do give up.

The NHS, however, offers further help and advise for quitters, including individual or group sessions providing face-to-face support from experts, the 'Smokefree Together' programme, developed by smokers and former smokers to offer support when you're at home via email, phone and text, and the NHS Smoking Helpline is also available seven days a week should you need to talk to a trained adviser.

Whatever stop smoking option you choose, however, willpower still plays its part. Many smokers find the mental side of quitting just as stressful as the physical addiction and it is vital that you prepare properly.

Before you take the plunge, choose a date on which you will stop... and stick to it. Try to remember the positive aspects of giving up smoking - an excellent way to see the benefits quickly is to take up exercise or change your routine so as to avoid the situations which would normally have you reaching for a cigarette.

If the idea of never smoking again is worrying you, a good trick is to simply say to yourself 'today, I am not going to smoke'. Though the first few weeks are tough, stick at it and you will feel healthier, sleep better and enjoy a genuine sense of achievement.

For more information on the options available, visit your GP or